Five young rhythmic gymnasts from Greater Victoria are headed for the BC Winter Games.
Amelie Kelley, Charlotte Phipps, Clara Davison, Dehlia Flint, and Iza Preston Lenkare from West Coast Rhythmic Gymnastics in Langford are getting ready to represent Vancouver Island and the Central Coast (Zone 6) at the multi-sport competition in Fort St. John from Feb. 19 to 23.
The young gymnasts are part of the West Coast Rhythmic Gymnastics Shooting Stars. They are all between nine and 11 years old and train up to 10 hours every week with their many coaches – while still attending school.
At the BC Winter Games, each team brings a head coach and an assistant coach. West Coast Rhythmic Gymnastics group will be accompanied by coaches Anais Tanyer, a business student at Camosun College, and Jinayah Nelson, a student at Belmont Secondary.
Athletes in the rhythmic gymnastics category at the BC Winter Games are the youngest at the competition. In most sports, the minimum age is 13, but the age eligibility can vary.
At the BC Winter Games, rhythmic gymnasts can compete as a group and as individuals. Solos routines include a rope and the athlete’s choice of a ball or hoop. Group routines need to include balls.
The BC Winter Games are held every two years and the Zone 6 gymnasts won medals at the last two games. The team nabbed silver in Penticton at the 2016 Games and four bronze medals at the 2018 Games in Kamloops – one in the group competition and three for solos.
In 2016, rhythmic gymnastics was again included in the BC Winter Games and have been part of each competition since, said a spokesperson for the BC Games Society. The sport was first featured at the Olympic Games 1984 when B.C. athlete Lori Fung took home the gold medal.